Transcript: Interview With Hillary Clinton

'To Meet the Threat That We Saw'

CM: So let me ask you a question that you're probably going to tell me is in private, but I'm going to ask anyway, uh … Secretary Gates said that and he share a very similar world view when it comes to negotiations, that if you made the concession you'd want to make sure you'd get something back for it.

Well, the Americans have just stood down or scrubbed the plants for nuclear, for the defense system that was going to be in the Czech Republic in Poland, something that the … the Russians wanted. What did the U.S. get in exchange for that?

Clinton: Well, I think that it's really important to understand what we did, because what we did was to conduct a very in-depth review which led us to conclude that the prior planning in the prior administration was not what was needed to meet the threat that we see.

Now, we frankly don't see the threat of a nuclear war between the United States and Russia. We just don't see that. We didn't see it happen during the Cold War when, you know, literally it was on a hair trigger. We don't see that.

What we do see is a country like Iran having short and medium range missiles that are able to target and reach our allies, our troops in Europe, uh … the larger, you know, community, the Euro/Atlantic community. And there's a lot that we put in our system that was aimed at a threat that we don't really perceive and we don't think that Iran's long term, long range missiles are yet developed enough. So what we did was to reconfigure our approach to meet the threat that we saw. And I think that, you know, we didn't, uh … we weren't looking for any concessions, and we didn't do it for anybody else. We did it because we thought it was in our national security interest to do it.

CM: No doubt it did engender some good will, though.

Clinton: I think it was acknowledged as being more accessible because clearly, Cynthia, what we're trying to do here is persuade the Russians. And I think we're making progress on this, to join with us in missile defense. To be part of the kind of global architecture of protecting against either regimes with nuclear arms, missiles or in the most horrible of outcomes, terrorists groups like Al Qaeda with nuclear armed missiles. So we're going to everything we can to prevent that from happening, but I think it is highly sensible to also be focusing on defense.

I supported missile defense and its development when I was a Senator. Uh, that set me apart from some democrats because I … I really believe that we have the technological knowhow in our country, uh … to be able to create that kind of protective, uh … umbrella. But, you know, for me, this was doing what was smart.

CM: I want to get Afghanistan, but before, just … just one final question on Iran; is there any doubt in your mind that it is the desire of the Iranian government to create nuclear weapons?

Clinton: There's a … a small space for doubt, um … because there are some contrary indicators. Um, there is no doubt in my mind that they want nuclear energy and nuclear power, which they are entitled to, to be able to use it for peaceful purposes. The real problem is once you do that and you get what's called a breakout capacity, it's not long before you could do the other. So that's why this is so, uh … important to address right now.

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